U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), chair of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) wrote the letter out of concern that the NRC is issuing too many RAIs. While the NRC has the authority to use RAIs when reviewing licensing applications to ensure that its decisions are legally defensible and made with all relevant and technical information, there are limits to the commission’s use of them.
“In the case of license amendment requests, NRC guidance directs the staff to limit the scope of RAIs to issues that have a regulatory basis, to avoid issuing RAIs if the information is already available, and ‘…to make every effort to limit itself to one round of RAIs…’” said the letter. “During the late 1990s, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee oversight activities unearthed concerns regarding the excessive use of RAIs resulting in unnecessary increased costs and schedule delays. Similar concerns have resurfaced in the past year regarding the number, nature, and management of RAIs.”